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August 18, 2015

Google OnHub: Smart Router for Internet of Things

Google is all about the Web: it develops the most popular browser and mobile operating system, it has a public DNS service, it provides broadband Internet (Google Fiber) and wireless service (Project Fi). So why not build a router to improve your Internet connection and make your router as smart and easy to use as your smartphone?

Google partnered with TP-LINK to build OnHub (TGR1900), a next-generation router for the Internet of Things. It's not the fastest router (AC 1900 Mbps), it's not the most expensive router ($199.99) and it's not the best router for power users. Instead, Google focused on providing the best experience for regular users, much like Apple and its AirPort devices.

"We replaced unruly cords and blinking lights with internal antennas and subtle, useful lighting, so you'll be happy placing OnHub out in the open, where your router performs its best. A unique antenna design and smart software keep working in the background, automatically adjusting OnHub to avoid interference and keep your network at peak performance. You can even prioritize a device, so that your most important activity — like streaming your favorite show — gets the fastest speed," mentions Google.

There are mobile apps for Android and iOS which let you setup the router, change the settings and check the stats. A Google account is required and Google saves all the settings online, except for the WiFi password. Google's OnHub downloads and installs new versions of the firmware automatically and the best thing is that the router doesn't restart, so it doesn't interrupt your connection

OnHub is designed for Internet of Things and it supports Bluetooth Smart Ready, Weave (Nest protocol for the Internet of Things), IEEE 802.15.4 (a standard that focuses on low-speed connections between devices). The router has a dual-core 1.4GHz processor from Qualcomm Atheros (it's based on Snapdragon S4), 4GB of storage, 1GB of RAM, one USB 3.0 port, a 3W speaker, a WAN port and a single LAN port (both are Gigabit ports). You'll need a switch if you want more Ethernet ports.

You can pre-order OnHub from Google Store, Amazon and other sites in the US and it will ship in the coming weeks. It will also be available for sale in retail stores in the U.S. and in Canada. Google plans to release a second OnHub device later this year, in partnership with ASUS.

Many people will wonder if Google monitors the sites they're visiting. There's a help center article about this, which mentions that Google collects some data about your Internet usage (data speeds, historical network usage, network status, connected devices, network settings) and associates some of them with your Google account, but you can disable this in the settings. Google DNS is used by default, but you can change the DNS settings.

So why isn't OnHub a router for power users? It has a single WAN port, it uses mobile apps for setup and changing settings, it's complicated to connect multiple OnHubs because OnHub has a fixed subnet IP address that currently can't be changed.


  1. Well, regarding connecting multiple OnHubs, I can't really see a problem there. Especially not for "power users".

    It's a good thing that Google recommend bridge mode, since stacked NATs (as most people end up doing) are just plain horrible. Real networks have one router and many bridges/APs, just like Google suggests.

    And how is toggling a mode "more complicated" than entering a bunch of obscure numbers, anyway?

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  2. Hello. Will it have a USB port for mobile internet dongle?
    You know, a usb-dongle-like modem (you would normally stick it to your laptop).
    I use this dongle with a very bad router, if I could use it with onHub, maybe I would.
    Thank you.

    1. It does have a USB 3.0 port, but Google doesn't mention if it supports dongles. I assume that it doesn't, but that may change in the future.

  3. Will it support OpenVPN Client/Server?

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